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Home » , , , » Nine Arrested for Raising Separatist Flag Ahead of SBY’s Visit to Papua

Nine Arrested for Raising Separatist Flag Ahead of SBY’s Visit to Papua

Written By Voice Of Baptist Papua on November 22, 2010 | 8:49 AM

Jakarta. Authorities in Papua arrested nine people for raising a separatist flag just hours before President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was due to arrive in the province on Sunday. This Source

Eight men and a woman believed to be linked to the separatist Free Papua Organization (OPM), hoisted the banned “Morning Star” flag on Saturday in Yalengga Bolakme, near Wamena in the central mountainous range of Papua, local police chief I Gede Sumerta Jaya said.

“We are intensively questioning nine people over the raising of the separatist flag in Bolakame, but we do not yet know what their motive is,” Sumerta said, adding that all nine were being detained.

He said that a routine police patrol found the flag flying at around 11 a.m. on Saturday and immediately hoisted it down.

“They flew the flag, we believe, because there was an OPM activist who died recently,” Sumerta said.

The public display of separatist symbols can be prosecuted under charges of subversion and plotting against the state, which can carry long jail sentences.

Yudhoyono, accompanied by first lady Ani Yudhoyono, arrived in the Papuan capital of Jayapura on Sunday afternoon.

The official schedule said the president was to meet with Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu and several other regional officials on Sunday evening.

Yudhoyono was also scheduled to witness the signing of an “integrity pact” by provincial, district and municipal officials and legislators.

Today, Yudhoyono is scheduled to open a national meeting of the Student Executive Boards from across the country at Cendrawasih University and will fly back to Jakarta later in the day.

Septer Manufandu, executive secretary of the Cooperation Forum of Papuan NGOs, said that Yudhoyono must focus on why Papuans are calling for independence and address the underlying issues.

“Jakarta’s approach is always security, cracking down on peaceful rallies and suspecting them of treason.

“What the Papuans want is social and economic justice, to be respected as fellow Indonesians,” he said.

Septer said Jakarta claims Papua was getting the lion’s share of fund allotments for the region in past years, but the money had mostly been used to pay for facilities and the operation of government and security forces there, leaving little money to improve the welfare of the people.

“What the Papuans want is not more money from the central government,” Septer said.

“What we want is for Jakarta to stage an internationally sponsored dialog with the Papuan people to resolve issues of poverty, lack of education, environmental destruction and human rights violations,” he said.
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